Preview: Green Bay Packers vs. Seattle Seahawks
The Green Bay Packers weren’t nearly as impressive last week against the St. Louis Rams, but Green Bay did earn a 17-9 victory that was a step in the right direction after getting shut out in its exhibition opener against the Arizona Cardinals. These teams have, um, a bit of history, and as the Seahawks and Packers get set for both a “dress rehearsal” and a rematch of one of the more infamous endings to a football game in recent memory here’s a look at some of the biggest storylines. Seattle Seahawks Major Storyline No. 1: Strength vs. Strength (Sort Of) Without question one of the most fascinating games within the game on Friday night will be watching the NFL ‘s top secondary square off against one of the league’s top passing attacks. In cornerbacks Richard Sherman, Brandon Browner and Antoine Winfield and safeties Earl Thomas and Kam Chancellor, the Seahawks have a defensive backfield that looks more like a Pro Bowl roster than an NFL one. Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images Were the Packers at full strength in the passing game, this contest would serve as a true test for the Seattle pass defense. However, wide receiver Jordy Nelson is out after undergoing knee surgery and Randall Cobb is highly questionable with a biceps injury. Green Bay leaned heavily on tight end Jermichael Finley last week, and the Seahawks struggled a bit with Denver’s Julius Thomas, so look for Seattle to focus on shutting Finley down.
2013 NFL season preview: Green Bay Packers
“All the time, it’s something that’s stuck with me unfortunately,” Jennings said about the play. “It’s something that I’m trying to get over. I don’t want to be remembered by that play. I just try to go out there and play football.” As if the task of following veteran defensive leader Woodson wasn’t tough enough. Released in the offseason in a cost-cutting move by Green Bay after seven years, the 36-year-old Woodson is back with the Oakland Raiders, the team that originally drafted him in 1998. Not that the Packers aren’t used to playing without Woodson, who missed the last nine games of the 2012 regular season because of a broken right collarbone. Woodson did play in the team’s two postseason games. Woodson, the 2009 Defensive Player of the Year, was one of the most respected players in the locker room. “It was an honor and a blessing to play with a Hall of Fame player like Charles Woodson, just to be able to be around him, watch him work on and off the field,” free safety Morgan Burnett said. “Now it’s time for us to apply it to the game and grow from it.” Burnett, a third-round pick from Georgia Tech in 2010, is a lock after signing an offseason extension. He’s started all 36 games in which he’s appeared in three seasons, compiling 259 tackles and six interceptions.
Packers’ MD Jennings tries to get past call
23 SPORTS Where: Lambeau Field. Broadcast: Radio AM-620. TV Channel 58. Injury report: Packers WR Randall Cobb (biceps), TE Matthew Mulligan (elbow), WR Charles Johnson (knee), TE Andrew Quarless (thigh), OLB Andy Mulumba (knee), DE Datone Jones (ankle) and CB James Nixon (knee) are questionable. CB Tramon Williams (knee), OT Bryan Bulaga (knee) and WR Jordy Nelson (knee) are out; S Sean Richardson (neck), OL JC Tretter (ankle), OT Derek Sherrod (leg) and DE Jerel Worthy (knee) are on the PUP list. Seahawks DL Jesse Williams (knee), FB Mike Robinson (sickness), WR Steven Williams (undisclosed), Bryan Walters (hamstring), Jordan Hill (arm) and CB Antoine Winfield (knee) may not play; De Chris Clemons (knee), DL Greg Scruggs (knee), CB Tharold Simon (foot) and WR Percy Harvin (hip) are on the PUP list; and LB Korey Toomer (hip) is on the non-football injury list. FIVE THINGS TO WATCH GETTING THEIR KICKS: There is a lot of pressure on K Mason Crosby going into the final preseason game at Lambeau Field. When he missed three of four field goal attempts in practice Wednesday, he broke a string in which he hit better than 90% of his tries. Challenger Giorgio Tavecchio continues to be consistent, and how each kicks on the home field should help decide the race.
I think it will survive if it cant televise preseason games on Friday nights. It already does so on Thursday, Saturday, Sunday and Monday. And how much longer before we see Tuesday and Wednesday night football as well? Youd also think the Packers have enough pull to say to the NFL, You know, when you make that schedule, how bout you leave Friday nights open for us? Some Green Bay-area schools played Thursday night, including the 108th meeting between East and West High Schools. Those that do play tonight and not just in Green Bay, but state-wide will do so in front of smaller crowds, and those who are there will have their attention divided, either checking scores on their phone or listening to the game on the radio. Thats because radio stations which normally carry high school football will carry a relatively meaningless game in which the starters play a quarter or two at the most. TV coverage will be limited in certain markets, split in others. Newspaper column inches normally devoted to high school football will have to carry way too in-depth analysis about punting hang times and whether or not the Packers will keep four tight ends or three fullbacks. The Packers and the rest of the NFL, for that matter, should never force their fans to choose between high school and preseason games.
Packers’ 53-man roster projection
Three of those completions went to Finley, including hook ups of 25 and 33 yards. The 33-yard completion might have been the best example of how an improved play-action offense can help Finley dominate the middle of the field. On Finley’s final series, the Packers faced a second-and-7 at their own 32-yard line. Green Bay lined up in the shotgun formation on both first and second down, with Finley as the in-line tight end, Lacy in the backfield and three receivers. Taken from Preseason Live. On first down, Lacy ran inside for three yards. On second, the Packers faked to Lacy, which drew both linebackers in and created a huge opening in the middle of the field. With the slot cornerback on the blitz, Finley turned his head as the hot receiver and Rodgers found him for an easy pitch-and-catch. The Packers rarely created these kind of openings last season off play-action, in large part because defenses simply didn’t respect the run game. With Lacy in town, and late-season spark plug DuJuan Harris back in the mix, the Packers now have a rushing attack that defenses must at least pay attention to. Checking out Packers-Rams: Lacy’s play really helps GB play-action; Rams had to take run seriously. Finley benefited and GB has balance now. Marc Sessler (@MarcSesslerNFL) August 19, 2013 Finley conceded that fact. Not only for me, for the perimeter guys period,” Finley said when asked how the run game will open up things in the passing game, via Vandermause.
John Casper Jr.: Packers should leave Friday nights to the high schools
This, of course, assumes left tackle David Bakhtiari , the fourth-round draft pick who stepped into that spot after Bryan Bulaga ‘s season-ending injury, and right tackle Marshall Newhouse can keep him from getting hit. It’d also be nice for the Packers if they can get production from the running backs. That was the thinking behind Green Bay taking running back Eddie Lacy in the second round of this year’s draft after Alex Green ‘s 464 yards led the squad last season. While coach Mike McCarthy said earlier in the preseason that DuJuan Harris was the starter in that moment, it seems unlikely Lacy will stay in a backup role for long. He’s the best option at this point, and for the price the team paid for him, it should expect results quickly. Harris and fourth-round pick Johnathan Franklin also should get carries. Defense: One of the bigger problems for the Packers in the past couple of seasons has been the secondary. Part of this problem is because Green Bay’s opponents usually have to play from behind, meaning they’re likely to attempt more passes than runs as they try to catch up. The team will miss Charles Woodson ‘s leadership, but players like Casey Hayward (a standout during his 2012 rookie season) and Morgan Burnett should make up for the loss of his talent (which was beginning to fade for Woodson, anyway). The results of the secondary in the early part of the preseason schedule were mixed, especially with Hayward out due to a hamstring injury.
2013 Green Bay Packers: Five Players to Keep an Eye On
— With so much focus on the head-to-head competition between incumbent Mason Crosby and challenger Giorgio Tavecchio , its easy to forget one thing: Its possible neither one will be the Green Bay Packers opening-day kicker. While Crosby has come on strong of late, as was noted in Mondays practice report , Packers general manager Ted Thompson on Tuesday would not commit to the idea that his kicker is one of those two. Well see, Thompson said during his weekly training camp session with reporters. Never stop looking. Some teams already have begun cutting kickers , and the rest with multiple kickers in camp will do so over the next 11 days, so Thompson and his staff will have to decide whether any of the available kickers would be better than either Crosby or Tavecchio. This is the third time during Thompsons tenure as general manager that hes had to pick a kicker. In 2006, he selected Dave Rayner over Billy Cundiff after the first preseason game. In 2007, he waited until the final cuts to release Rayner in favor of Crosby. Its just when you get comfortable with the decision, Thompson said. Apparently, Thompson hasnt reached that point just yet.
Green Bay Packers: Offense wants snappy tempo with no huddle
Last season, Cobb led the team with in receptions (80) and receiving yards (954), and only James Jones (14) totaled more touchdown receptions (8). In two seasons in the league, the former second-round pick has already returned three kicks (2 punts, 1 kickoff) for scores. It’s safe to say that the Packers certainly are not lacking for wide receivers. DE Datone Jones: In 2011, the Green Bay defense slipped to dead last in the NFL in yards allowed and gave up the most passing yards in a season in league history. A year ago, the Packers were much better on the defensive side of the ball but by year’s end they were unable to stop the run, allowing a whopping 490 yards rushing in two playoff games (249 to opposing quarterbacks). The team has added a lot of defensive talent via the draft the last two years and Jones was the club’s first-round pick in April. CB Casey Hayward: The second-round pick of a year ago had a huge impact in his debut campaign. Heyward totaled 53 tackles and rolled up team-highs with six interceptions and 21 passes defensed. The Packers are in solid shape at the corners with Hayward as well as starters Tramon Williams and Sam Shields. And if outside linebacker Clay Matthews and company can consistently get to the quarterback once again, there figures to be a lot more errant passes headed in Hayward’s direction. So what can we expect from the Packers in 2013?
Is Packers TE Jermichael Finley Finally Ready for a Breakout Season?
Any slight pause gives the defense a chance to breathe, to react, to adjust. Yet too often, Dietrich-Smith said, the officials checked to see if the Packers were making substitutions. The center would prefer officials “put the (expletive) ball down” and move aside. “That’s the hardest part about it,” he said. “We have to basically tell those guys, ‘Hey, we’re not subbing. We’re rolling. We’re not subbing.’ … They get a little old and don’t move as fast as they should. It takes a little time, but we’ll start buttering them up and try to get them to hurry the hell up.” Through the Packers’ game-opening drive at St. Louis, they averaged 28.05 seconds of real time between plays.
Packers won’t commit to a kicker yet
That could bring Jeremy Ross , Kevin Dorsey or Charles Johnson back into play. But for now, the undrafted rookie Walker has the edge for the final spot. The Packers had hoped Ross would show more as a receiver so that they could also make him their kick returner. Rookies Dorsey and Johnson, both seventh-round picks, missed so much time because of injuries that theres not enough information to go on. At this point, they look like practice-squad candidates if they clear waivers. Tight ends (4): Jermichael Finley , Ryan Taylor , Brandon Bostick , Jake Stoneburner Analysis: This is perhaps the most muddled position after the starter, Finley. Theres no clear-cut No. 2. Taylor is on most of the top special teams units but so is D.J.